Press Review

All of today's papers feature Thursday's meeting between Czech President, Vaclav Havel, and his Austrian counterpart, Thomas Klestil, which they say was a desperate attempt to reduce the political friction between Austria and the Czech Republic. Also, the shocking news that five year-old Tereza Cermakova, whose mother had admitted responsibility for her death, showed high volumes of alcohol in her blood. Also making the headlines on today's front pages are the most recent negotiations between Czech driving school owners and used-cars importers and the Transport Minister, Jaromir Schling .

Lidove noviny credits both Chairman of the Senate, Petr Pithart, and Speaker of the Lower House, Vaclav Klaus, for resolving Thursday's blockade of the Transport Ministry by driving school owners and used-car importers. Over the last few days, 800 parked cars had had been used to bring a large area surrounding the Transport Ministry to a complete halt.

The Chairman of the Association of Car Importers, Jan Slawisch said that the negotiation process had resulted in an agreement to form two new committees that would deal with protester's demands in Parliament. Jiri Volkan from the Association of Driving Schools praised Mr. Klaus' communication skills and the paper quotes him as saying that he would actually enjoy being part of such 'extraordinary' negotiations again.

Staying with the blockades, and Pravo reports that one of the 300 policemen present at the blockades was the head of the Prague Police, Radislav Charvat. Unfortunately for Mr. Charvat, he was also on the wrong end of a punch thrown by one of the protester who then ran away. The Chairman of the Association of Car Importers rejects accusations that some of the protesters turned to violence to express their anger at the situation and says that dialogue had been chosen as the only way to communicate. Despite having suffered a small scratch to his right eye Mr. Charvat remained light-hearted and said that he was used to the fact that it was the police who were the targets during emotional conflicts such as the blockade..

Mlada fronta Dnes reports that police investigators believe five-year old, Tereza Cermakova, whose dead body was found in woods two months ago, had been plied with alcohol by her mother before her death. The charges brought against the little girl's 27 year-old mother have now been changed from the original accidental grievous bodily harm to intentional grievous bodily harm. Tereza's mother could now face a prison sentence from between three to eight years.

After Tereza's body was discovered, her mother admitted to having been responsible for the death. The little girl is said to have sneaked into the bed of her mother who then unintentionally and suffocated her with her body. But according to the alcohol levels found in the little girl's blood, the paper says, investigators now believe that Mrs. Cermakova had deliberately caused her child harm. Tereza could not have drunk so much alcohol, equalling a little over of a litre of beer by herself, Mlada fronta Dnes reports.

Today's Hospodarske noviny writes that, on request of the Czech Government, Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for Czech-born Viktor Kozeny, charged with corruption and fraud. In the early nineties, Mr. Kozeny used massive media campaigns to lure people into investing in his company, the Harvard Funds, and is then believed to have used the money to buy a house and live comfortably in the Bahamas.

Internationally, Mr. Kozeny is wanted in connection with Azerbaidjan's privatisation process during which he is believed to have embezzled half-a-billion U.S. dollars. The paper writes that, in this respect, the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has expressed concern that the United States would get hold of the infamous Mr. Kozeny before the Czech Republic even had a chance.